Got fleas? Ticks? You are not alone. And, as with head lice, you shouldn’t stress out about the implications—it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. In fact, there’s mounting evidence that shows we have holes in our best current means of defense.
And the data is in: global warming’s not helping any. Sooner than you think, even you Northern latitudes folks may begin to feel our year-round, semi-tropical pain—if you’re not already there.
Right now, the safest and most effective methods for preventing and eradicating fleas and ticks on pets are still the vet-hospital standbys: Frontline, Advantage and Revolution. And now we’ve got Advantix, Advantage-multi and Capstar. And don’t forget the trusty Preventic collar for serious tick issues (I use it judiciously, especially on older dogs).
Every year it seems we have new products out there. And that’s because we’ve managed to breed resistant bugs. They spit in the face of our technology with their mutant genes and quick-turnaround life cycles. So we humans have to maintain this arms race if we want to protect our pets from tick-borne disease, anemia and flea allergies, among other maladies.
But not everyone agrees we have resistance in our midst. Some companies swear by their products’ abilities and blame us pet-owning humans for our bug problems. They say we don’t use their products “just right” (every month without fail) and that’s what makes us “feel” as if the products aren’t working like they used to (though many of us never used these products every month and seemed to do just fine).
The drug companies blame global warming for much of it, too. They say the warmer temperatures make for longer flea seasons (hence the perception of more resistant fleas and ticks) and an increased need for year-round, monthly use. That may be true, but not in South Florida—we have bugs twelve months a year (and always have).
Though it sounds like I’m pharma-bashing again, let me step back a sec and acknowledge that these products have been incredibly effective for a remarkably long time. Remember what “flea seasons” used to be like before them? I do. Vets used to spend inordinate amounts of time on exam-room flea discussions. It was frustrating. It was boring. It was hell. Now we just sell some stuff at a hefty markup and save lots of time in the deal. We also get fancy steakhouse dinners each time they come up with a new product variation.
So why point out their deficiencies? Apart from rejecting the “money-grubbing vet” label, I simply have an innate distrust of big corporations with huge money to spend on ginormously profitable goods. I’ll eat their fine food. I’ll buy their products. I’ll even recommend them. But don’t expect me to take them at their every word.
Resistance is real. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t be telling us that we’re not using their products right. They wouldn’t bring up global warming as a factor. And they certainly wouldn’t be hosting expensive dinners whenever they’ve got a newer, more effective product they’re rushing to market.